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Making Sense of Loss and Grief

May 9, 2022

Salma Jaffer & Flourette Bacchus – Haynes
Clinical Social Workers
Interprofessional Primary Care Team

Image Source: Riccardo Mio @Unsplash

Grief is a normal response to any loss and it is painful. COVID-19 outbreak has been unprecedented time for the entire community and collectively we are grieving the loss of our loved ones. During COVID-19 we are dealing with more than one wave of grief. Grieving is an experience that can shake the foundations of the lives of those affected. It calls upon individuals and families to utilize a significant number of resources in order to find ways to cope with the situation adequately; and to maintain some kind of balance and harmony in their lives.

With the already stressful days of being confined, being away from those we love, human touch, missed celebrations and trying to get use to the new normal can take a toll on you emotionally, mentally and physically. Our resilience will help us to practice new way of grieving.

Below is a chart explaining waves of grief that the community are experiencing during the pandemic.

Social Distancing

  • Social isolation, Lonliness
  • No contact with loved ones
  • Unable to spend time with friends or give hugs
  • Vacations cancelled
  • Loss of control over our lives
  • Daily routine affected
  • Working from home
  • Important meetings and projects cancelled
  • Loss of Safety and Security

Loss of Loved Ones

  • Family members dying alone
  • Loved ones cannot be with the dying family members
  • Feeling angry, guilty, resentful and hopelessness
  • Grieving in isolation

Lockdown Protocols

  • Stay home restrictions
  • Places of worships closed
  • Restricted numbers of mourners allowed
  • Unable to have traditional, cultural, or religious ceremonies
  • Absence of memorial services
  • Virtual ceremonies and commemorations to ease bereavement

Loss of Jobs

  • Businesses shutting down
  • Fear of losing jobs
  • Financial difficulties
  • No purpose in life
  • Food insecurity
  • Escalation of violence
  • Negative coping strategies
  • grieving and unpredictable future

Academic Loss

  • Institutions Close
  • Interrupted Education
  • Virtual graduation ceremonies
  • Unable to celebrate Milestones (graduation, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)

Exploring coping strategies

We have to think of ourselves as being resilient because we are able to “bounce back” from losses and negative events by taking control of the situation, and practicing strategies to manage your grief, depression and anxiety.  We all have our own strengths that we could use to help us cope with difficult life situations.

  • Acknowledge your feelings of grief by allowing your feelings/emotions to come out.  It is normal.
  • Remember the special times, such as anniversaries, birthdays, or holidays can intensify feelings of grief, talk to someone, a close friend or a therapist
  • Crying is not a sign of weakness and crying is normal as it helps you to release your emotions
  • Join a peer support group.  Reaching out to others who might be going through the same journey as yours
  • Visit love ones while following the necessary precautions for this unprecedented time
  • Grow a plant in memory of your loved one
  • Write a letter to the person you lost
  • Practice self-care, by eating healthy, exercise and proper sleep
  • Try holistic methods of coping, for example, Mindfulness, music therapy, art therapy and journaling
  • Try to avoid depending upon substances such as alcohol, medications or drugs to help cope with your feelings
  • Be kind to yourself

Additional Resources

Bereaved Families of Ontario 
Canadian Mental Health Association
Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities
Toronto Central Health


Burrell, A., Selman, L.E. (2020). OMEGA. How do Funeral Practices impact Bereaved Relatives’ Mental Health, Grief and Bereavement? A Mixed Methods Review with implications for COVID-19. Journal of Death and Dying, 2020 –

Wallace, C.L., Wladkowski, S.P., Stephanie, P. (2020). Grief during the COVID-19 pandemic: considerations for palliative care providers.